I am not knocking Google Ads for its ability to create a good stream of leads into some businesses, used properly it can be very effective and deliver some good sales conversions, that make it a good promotional option for many.
The problem for many businesses though, is that over time, the platform can reduce in effectiveness, as the level of maintenance of the account is not keeping up with the changes in the market, or the changes made by Google themselves.
As a business owner, you only become aware of this when seeing that you are paying Google, what amounts to quite a lot of money every month, and getting ever diminishing returns.
As the leads dry up, it can be disheartening to realise you are effectively paying for students, competitors, non-relevants, job seekers etc… and the customers you ARE intending to target seem to be somewhere else.
In fishing terms, you are having your bait nibbled at by the smaller fish, or snagged on the bottom and not enough ‘bites’ to make it worth your while staying out.
An example of this recently with my own account, came with the set up of a new campaign with a good narrowly focused keyword and good ad/ landing page etc. so everything good, until the campaign went live.
Although the modified broad match search term, (highly specific) was laser like in its targeting, Google decided to put in a ‘near match’, and bring in loads of clicks for what was now completely irrelevant by the omission of a few letters at the end of the keyword Google used, that now made it mean something altogether different.
Money in to Google, nothing for me ☹
With Google very much still the dominant force in search traffic, and their gradual moving ‘unpaid for’ results lower and lower down the page, many feel that they grudgingly HAVE to be in this crazy auction to get the necessary throughput of enquiries.
But my own opinion is that Google must be mopping up many millions, if not billions globally in the ‘clicks that never were’.
Whilst you can never rule out attrition in marketing, with Google Ads it can be so easy to waste hard earned cash by just having a few settings out of kilter.
So what can be done to reduce your reliance on Google Ads?
Firstly, if your business really does rely on Google Ads and switching it off completely would be like committing business suicide, then what I would recommend is that you really start tightening things up.
Negative keywords is a good start.
Not using good negative keywords (keywords that could trigger your ads but are worthless to you) can be disastrous, or at the very least, stupidly expensive.
Personally, I have around 160 negative keywords in a single campaign.
So being a marketing consultant, I will suppress terms like ‘free’ ‘template’ ‘jobs’ ‘careers’ ‘placements’….etc.
The other big one is not managing your conversions. In Google Ads a conversion is an action that a visitor takes, so it could be your ‘Thanks for Enquiry’ page is a conversion you set up, with a value assigned, could be £60, based on how many % go on to become sales and value of sale.
Managing conversions is the ‘cash is reality’ side of Google Ads and will ensure your campaign is as streamlined as possible.
If it’s not converting - switch it off!
NEVER let your Google Ads campaign go unmanaged, as it WILL drift away like a rudderless ship and cost you money the longer its left to run.
Away from Google Ads, then its obvious that you must increase your effectiveness in your natural Search Engine Optimisation.
This may sound slow and laborious, but for many clients, we have seen great improvement in natural ranking when this aspect of their business is given proper investment and priority.
It’s not free to do natural SEO, and it doesn’t give the instant gratification of Google ads, but at least the money invested is just that, it’s benefitting your business long terms, as opposed to feeding the Google fatcats.
The costs for natural SEO come in time and effort, as well as actual costs for freelancers, employee costs to work on good pages, content, images, blog outreach, as well as software subscriptions like Semrush or Spyfu.
More highly ranking pages will make your Google Ads less of a priority for your business, and you can gradually ween yourself off Google Ads, to a point where you no longer need to make the monthly investment.
It would also be wise to consider other ways to generate leads into your business that don’t have reliance on SEO or Google ads at all.
Looking back to when I started in advertising and media, there wasn’t all the online marketing channels and it was either the phone, letter, personal visit or networking to build business.
Some of these more traditional marketing approaches are making a renaissance and businesses are having successes in the more personal ways of connecting with customers.
is it time for your business to try some new approaches and to ‘change it up’? It may be worth just spending some time and thinking about other tactics that are not simply plugging into Google Ads and other online channels.
If you’d like to discuss the content of this article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Phil Ashforth DipM